Veganism, Body Image, Eating Disorder Recovery, and the Blog-o-sphere.

Dirty_Dancing_782

I want to tell you that my eating disorder started super simply, and spiraled really quickly and I believe my early time as a blog reader contributed to that fact.

My heart was broken-isn’t that how they often start?- and I felt terrible about myself. I couldn’t eat or sleep, and naturally, I lost weight. I got positive affirmation from everyone around me- from my peers to my doctors. I decided to use my tragedy as a way to “change my life for the good” and my attempt to “get really healthy” slowly turned into a whole regimen of eating and exercise based around extreme fear of both food and my body. At my lowest weight I was 55 lbs. less than I am now, and I never once felt thin, at least not really. What I did feel was a gripping fear that I would gain weight.

My body was always on the brink of not good enough.

Not coincidentally, this is the point when I really started getting into food blogs. I had always enjoyed eating before, but my eating disorder made me literally obsessed with it, thinking about it every waking moment despite the fact that I wasn’t really connected to the idea of physical hunger anymore. I trolled healthy living blogs, vegan recipe blogs, raw vegan lifestyle blogs, low fat baking blogs, etc. with ferocious tenacity and procured a huge archive of recipes- which I never made. These bloggers were the closest people in my life and their food felt near and dear to my heart.

I did not need to eat, but I did need other people’s experiences of eating.  I could not go out to dine with friends, but I could see pictures of women I did not know doing just that.

I have this huge memory deep in my sickness of being so invested in what other people were eating and posting that I literally had no life of my own. My free time was completely dedicated to scrolling through the web, with no real friends left to call. One common factor of all the blogs that I read was that they were geared toward weight loss (whether they overtly said so or not) and they focused on food fairly strictly, without too much info about the other things they had going on in their lives. Although many of the blogs I came across were obviously written by people with eating troubles, few mentioned it beyond highlighting weight loss.

Like a lot of things, I believe social media can be used as a tool of evil or a tool of good. Obviously I am currently a social media fan, because my business hinges on people finding me and resonating with my story. I myself am a blogger, a Pinterest user, a tweet-er and super stoked on Instagram. But it took a mental switch for me to be able to appropriately use these tools, and that switch required taking a break from being actively invested in food blogs.  I had to create my own full life in order to witness the lives of others in a healthy and balanced way.

Although my recovery has been a shifty long and winding road, I did notice early on that when I was focusing less on blogs of people I did not know, I focused much more on creating my own experiences. When I stopped being inundated with images of oatmeal, I started feeling a little free-er to do my own thing- like, I dunno, eat a fucking tofu scramble or something. Taking a break from social media allowed me to stop being such a busy body about every aspect of other people’s food and focus on myself. I am not saying I got instantly better when I stopped reading food blogs, but I am saying that it helped.

Think of it like this: if you go out dancing when you feel fly, you are likely to have an excellent time cutting a rug with your friends. If you go out dancing when you’re stuck in a negative body image thought loop, you’re likely to find yourself comparing yourself to others all night, AKA having no fucking fun. Blogging and reading blogs are very similar.

I got back into blogs and blogging once I was more deeply into my recovery and started to have a larger sense of self. It seemed that in my time away from being an avid blog reader, the blogging world had shifted (or perhaps it was just that my attention shifted.) I found vegan blogs that talked about the intersection of feminism and veganism. I found body positivity blogs. I found exercise blogs based on power instead of body composition. None of the new blogs that I read focused on weight loss, and there was significantly more CONTENT to grab onto. My previous experience as a blog reader had been driven by extreme hunger. This new experience of blog reading was driven by more of a hunger for knowledge. How did people manage to lift those weights? How did that person recover from bulimia and learn to actually love themselves? How did that person embrace their fat body and go on to fucking kill it? I needed to know, and not only did I want to read inspiring stories, I wanted to become a part of the dialogue. That’s what Super Strength Health was born out of.

Being an active participant in blogging is much different than being a passive observer. It is significantly more risky and scary and also much, much more fun. When I decided to start Super Strength Health, I knew I wanted to approach the subject of food and body with positivity and compassion. I remembered how I’d seen all those food blogs that gave me no real context for other people’s lives and how they hadn’t been exactly great for me to read. I knew I would want to write recipes, but I decided that I would be talking about my recovery, too. I speak of my body and my struggles candidly, with an intention to always focus on what is working over what isn’t, because that is ultimately what I think is best for struggling readers and also for myself. Just the act of writing this blog has helped me to delve deeper into my recovery. Each post has not only helped me to stop treating myself like shit, but also to actually start liking myself.

I have heard people say terrible things about my openness with my life on my blog, and I have heard people say that my writing has helped them to choose a life of health over a life of eating disorder bullshit.  I choose to focus on the positive! I think the risk of being open and honest on a public platform is absolutely worth it and is intrinsically linked to the fact that I like my life. I still troll blogs sometimes on a Friday night, but now its not because I’m hungry, isolated, and alone- it is because I feel a part of a community and I love hearing what my peers have to say. Once I cast my voice into the ring of health and wellness bloggers, I allowed myself the opportunity to come into myself more, to hone my own voice, my own tastes, and my own opinions.

I think anyone could benefit from taking the risk to publish their own content, and if you (yes YOU!) decide to do so and need a little support, I am your girl.

I will read your links.
I will repost your stories.
I will defend you from turds who become adversarial.
I will talk your shit up, up and down the information super highway!

Because I think the healthiest way to be a  blog reader is to also be a blog writer! Plus I want to hear your radical, fun, awkward, scared, nervous, empowered, body positive story. It will be good for all of us, and I’d much appreciate the opportunity to get to know you more.